The Sierra Club has filed a federal lawsuit against Seaboard
Farms and Seaboard Corp., alleging pollution of the state's
waterways by the firm's Dorman concentrated animal feeding operation
in Beaver County.
"Sierra Club feels compelled to file this lawsuit in order to
protect Oklahoma's citizens from pollution caused by the waste
generated from huge animal factories," said Sierra Club Oklahoma
President Chris Corbett.
"State and federal agencies have not taken sufficient enforcement
action to address Seaboard's repeated violations of federal law.
Seaboard's illegal actions pose an unacceptable threat to our water
resources, and must stop."
Federal law requires anyone intending to lodge such an action to
notify the subject of the lawsuit 60 days prior to filing suit. An
"intent to sue" letter was mailed to Seaboard in February alleging
several clean water law violations at the Dorman facility, which
houses 27,000 swine.
The alleged violations range from directly pouring waste into
streams, over-applying waste to land and the plant's inability to
store hog waste properly.
"In October 1999, over just a one-month period of time, more than
160,000 gallons of wastewater were spilled at the Dorman facility,"
said Corbett. "These spills and other violations by Seaboard are
particularly alarming due to the proximity of the Dorman site to the
Beaver River, and because the site overlies the Ogallala aquifer,
which creates a major threat to the quality of these important
Oklahoma water resources."
Located below the Dorman site in the Panhandle, the Beaver River
drains a 17,700-acre wildlife management area and flows near the
town of Beaver before it turns southeast into the North Canadian
River, feeding Fort Supply, Canton and Overholser lakes.
Sierra Club argues that the soils underlying and adjacent to the
facility are permeable, sandy soils, which allow for the underground
flow of water and pollutants from the swine operation to the refuge
and the Beaver River watershed.
Specifically, the suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the
Western District of Oklahoma is seeking:
* A declaratory judgment holding that Seaboard has violated and
continues to violate the clean water act.
* An injunction against operation of the site in a manner that
would result in further violations.
In particular, the Sierra Club wants Seaboard prohibited from
further operations at Dorman until the company has applied for and
obtained a federal National Pollution Discharge Elimination System
or NPDES permit.
Federal law bans discharge of pollutants from a point source into
U.S. waters unless discharge is specifically permitted in a NPDES
Seaboard obtained a conditional State Department of Agriculture
feedyard license, but not a NPDES permit.
The Dorman site is designated by the state as a "zero discharge"
facility, one which does not discharge pollutants. However, the
Sierra Club filing alleges several instances of pollutant discharge
in September through November of last year, documented in
agriculture department inspection reports. …